- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 23, 2006

There will be salsa and swing dancing, stand-up comedy, hip-hop music and much more for revelers who choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve at First Night Annapolis.

Young and old are invited downtown, where historic sites and community centers — various churches, the city courthouse and Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts — will host alcohol-free family-oriented activities.

A special children’s program will be held between 2 and 5 p.m. at Maryland Hall, but all other evening programs will begin downtown at 6 p.m. Click on www.firstnightannapolis.org for the performance schedule.

Michael Shultz, the event’s communications coordinator, highlights technological wonder PlayMotion, which he describes as “an interactive light show” at City Dock.

Also, LantasticExtreme’s computer-game salon will be taken down and reassembled at the Annapolis Recreation Center.

At midnight, a fireworks show will light up the sky above Spa Creek at City Dock, signaling the beginning of a new year.

First Night celebrations carry on a tradition that started 30 years ago when a community in Boston decided to create an alternative New Year’s Eve party that families could enjoy.

Paul Hansbarger, marketing and communications coordinator for First Night Leesburg, describes the Loudoun County town’s festivities as “a little of everything.”

Nearly 5,000 visitors wandered through the streets of downtown Leesburg last year. This year will be much the same as more than 100 performances at 20 venues will feature jazz, puppet shows, storytelling and more.

The night will conclude with a community candle-lighting ceremony at the courthouse. Click on www.bluemont.org/ Events/FN_Leesburg-index. html for more information.

An estimated 13,000 attended First Night Alexandria last year, and this year will introduce several new attractions.

“For the first time ever, we’ll have hands-on art sponsored by the Art League,” says Ann Dorman, executive director of First Night Alexandria.

An array of art supplies, such as wires and paint, will be available for everyone to use.

“People can go and make something,” Mrs. Dorman says. “Then they can either take it home or put it on a display board.”

She also highlights theatrical storyteller Paula Alprin, free dance lessons and demonstrations for visitors of all ages provided by Generations Dance Studio and songs by Jon Wikstrom, a romantic singer-songwriter in the style of Frank Sinatra.

Teens can expect the annual Teen Talent Competition at Durant Center. This year will feature Travers Geoffray’s piano and vocal compositions. He earned second place in the teen competition at First Night Alexandria two years ago.

A more extensive list of the 31 venues offering nightlong entertainment is available at the First Night Alexandria Web site, www.firstnightalexandria.org.

At midnight, Alexandria’s celebration will conclude with fireworks in front of the Masonic Temple.

WHEN YOU GO:

Annapolis

Where: Downtown Annapolis. The children’s program at 2 p.m. will be at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Admission: Badges purchased throughout December are free for children 5 and younger, $10 for children ages 6 to 12, $14 for teens 13 to 17 and senior citizens 65 and older, and $18 for adults 18 to 64. Adults 18 to 64 will pay $22 if they purchase their badges on the day of the event. Badges are available at the Web site as well as 16 area Giant Food stores in Anne Arundel, Howard and Prince George’s counties; the Annapolis visitors center; Ledo Pizza stores; several hotels in the Annapolis area; and shops on Main Street in Annapolis.

Hours: Children’s activities will be held from 2 to 5 p.m., and all other programs will be from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Parking: Parking will be available at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for $10, with a free shuttle to the events.

Information: Click on www.firstnightannapolis.org or call 410/268-8553.

Leesburg

Where: 20 venues in downtown Leesburg.

Admission: One badge per person will cover the cost of all events. Badges are $8 for those 13 and older, $6 for seniors and $3 for children ages 3 to 12. Children younger than 3 enter for free. Badges are available at the Loudoun County visitors center, Leesburg Pharmacy, Tally Ho Theatre, Bluemont Concert Series and Loudoun Museum.

On Dec. 31, badges can be purchased anytime after 5 p.m. at the First Night admission booths on King and Market streets in Leesburg. Badges also will be available at several venues after 6 p.m. but may be purchased only with cash or a check.

Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight, with the earlier performances geared toward families with children.

Parking: Free parking will be available at two parking garages as well as on side streets, but the Historic District will close to vehicles at 5 p.m.

Information: Click on www.bluemont.org/Events/events_intro.html or phone 703/777-6306.

Alexandria

Where: Dozens of venues throughout downtown Alexandria, including the Dairy Godmother, Imagine Artwear, the Little Theater of Alexandria and Baptist Church Temple.

Admission: Badges are required for those over age 12 and cost $10 until Christmas and $15 after Christmas. Children younger than 12 must be accompanied by a badge-wearing adult. Badges can be purchased at the Web site but must be picked up in person anytime after noon Dec. 31 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Alexandria, across from the King Street Metro stop.

Participants also can purchase badges at the hotel and at any participating venue that night, beginning 15 minutes before the first performance. The Web site also lists participating retail stores where badges may be purchased.

Hours: 6 p.m. until midnight.

Parking: Many garages in Alexandria will offer free parking, and Metro-operated parking lots are free on weekends and most federal holidays. Also, free shuttles will operate all night between every participating venue in addition to the King Street Metro stop.

Information: Click on www.firstnightalexandria.org or call 703/838-4200, Ext. 210.

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